Tello Drone Review

Today I’m reviewing the Tello Drone, built by a company called Ryze, however with the backing of DJI. (DJI sells them and supplies some components).
I’m usually not impressed by drones in the budget category (I’ve been burned many times). But the Tello is actually quite good, with only some minor issues.

I’ve done this video in both video and text form (there’s not a huge difference in content between the two).

In the Box

In the box, you get the drone, a battery, spare propellors, the instruction manual and NO CHARGING CORD. It’s only a Micro USB cable, so most people will have one, but it’s a bit of an oversight to not include one!

Features

– Wifi or Bluetooth connection
– 720p video camera (no onboard storage)
– Vision Positioning System (for hovering/stabilisation)
– Failsafe Protection (for landing when it disconnects)
– Programming SDK
– Special flight modes for taking 360 photos
– Digital Image stabilisation
– 100meter flight distance
– 13minute flight time
– VR capable app

Hardware

The Hardware is pretty solid. The battery is larger than other budget drones, giving it upto 13minutes of flight time (I got over 10 minutes of flying it around and doing tricks/video).

It’s 98x92x41mm in size and weighs 80grams, this puts it in the very light drone category, making it exempt from a lot of the CASA restrictions regarding drones in Australia (particularly the restrictions based on no fly zones!).

The App

In Short: The App is really good. The controls in the app are super easy to use, it’s really easy to connect (you need to connect to the wifi network it creates).  (Sorry, forgot to just take a screenshot of the app!)

Flying

It’s super easy to fly. The controls are responsive, about 1/2 second delay between the app and the drone, then another 1/2 second or so for the video feed.
While it claims a range of about 100meters, I was getting the low signal warning when I was about 50meters away, and the video feed would visually glitch, even when it’s only 10-20meters away. It’s not a problem for flying, but when you’re using it to record video, the glitches do come through into the video footage! Having onboard storage on the drone via a MicroSD card would fix this!
The camera quality when it’s not glitching however is amazing for a drone this size and the video stabilisation is way better than I expected, without even using a gimbal like the higher end DJI drones.

Education

They’ve marketed the drone as being capable for use in education for use in STEM projects including programming.
I work in multiple schools as well as my job at TechAddicts and hardware wise this drone would be PERFECT for education use. HOWEVER. The programming side of the drones is absolute trash, which is really disappointing. They claim Scratch support, however it requires you to install the Scratch Offline editor on a PC, add in the special programming software bits as well, add in a bit of extra configuration time and then you can sort of program it.
If they build an education based app with drag and drop programming blocks, then this would be the BEST drone for education.
Thankfully, they have annouced they’re releasing a version of the Tello drone for education, which should fix this (due later this year).

Conclusion

The hardware is great, the app is great, flying it is super easy. I can see why DJI partnered with Ryze for this drone, it’s basically all the goodness of the DJI drones but at the price point of a budget mini drone.
The connection quality could be improved to make the video quality not so glitchy (or using a MicroSD card on the drone itself to record).
It’s perfect for kids, great for adults who want to play with a drone without spending a lot of cash and has the potential to be awesome for education if they sort out the programming side of things.

I’m going to give this two ratings:

For using it around home and as a toy, 9/10 ducks.
For education use with STEM activities: 6/10 ducks.

When the education version is released, I hope to be able to review it and update my review. I’m super excited for it for use in schools!

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